Great Grace – Part 5
Grace has been described as the ‘undeserved favour’ of God. This is true as we examine Old Testament characters that walked with God. We all enjoy God’s favour, but it appears that some enjoy it in greater measure. How God dispenses His favour to His children is at His discretion, and also depends on our faith and the demands we place on God.
Acts 4:33 reads, ‘And great grace was upon them all.’ The phrase “great grace” must be understood against the background of what the disciples were doing at this point. They were in God’s presence, which seem to suggest that the blessings of ‘great grace’ are released upon the people of God when they pray or when they are in God’s presence. Prayer is the undisputed means of receiving power, which makes ‘great grace’ available.
What does ‘great grace’ mean? Dr John MacArthur suggests: “This means ‘favour’ and carries a twofold meaning here: 1) favour from the people outside the church. Because of the believers’ love and unity, the common people were impressed (cf. 2:47); and 2) favour from God who was granting blessing.”
On his part, Thomas Nelson says: “It seems that when God finds people who are willing to turn their possessions over to Him, He gives their testimony a remarkable attractiveness and force.” He also adds that the, “two marks of a great church in verse 33 are a great power and great grace.”
God’s favour was the mark of many Old Testament saints. God favoured Abraham when He chose him to be the vessel through whom all the families of the earth would be blessed. For believing God’s promises, his faith was reckoned to him as righteousness. Through Abraham, God established faith as a basis for receiving His blessings. When Abimelech tried to take Sarah, Abraham’s wife, God intervened and threatened Abimelech with death, if he failed to release her. God demonstrated to Abraham that He was a covenant-keeping God. God gave him Isaac as an heir instead of Eliezer and blessed him with material things (Gen.24: 1).
No Old Testament character like Esther best illustrates what favour means. In Esther 2:8-9, we read that she enjoyed favour when many young women had gathered at Shushan the citadel, under the custody of Hegai. In Esther 2:15-17, Esther became the queen because God favoured her ‘in the sight of all who saw her’ and, most importantly, she obtained the king’s favour. In Esther 5:2, we read that, “when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she found favour in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand.”
Also in Chapters 5:8, 7:3, 8:5, Esther found favour in the king’s sight when he permitted her to organise the second banquet (Esther 5:8). God answered her petition regarding Haman’s threat (Esther 7:3) and cancelled the decree of Haman (Esther 8:5).
Joseph enjoyed the favour of God in very real and tangible ways wherever he went and in whatever he did (Genesis 39:21-23).
In Daniel 1:9, when Daniel decided not to defile himself with the food that the king ate and the wine that he drank, “GOD brought Daniel into the favour and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs.” Psalm 84:11 states, “For the Lord God is a sun and a shield; the Lord will give favour and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Great grace comes from God alone.
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